The Late Movies: These Tetris Videos Will Stress You Out


In recent years I've become interested in a niche hobby -- competitive NES Tetris. Yes, it's a video game that came out more than twenty years ago and I still find it fascinating. I don't play competitively, but I know a bunch of people who do (and I recently refereed at the 2012 Classic Tetris World Championship). Tonight, I bring you a collection of max-out videos -- these are feats of unbelievable coordination and concentration, in which Tetris masters manage to break the 999,999 point score limit ("max-out") on the Nintendo game. These people have been playing for decades, and it shows. Warning: these Tetris videos will stress you out.

Matt Buco

Buco's max-out is most notable because it's so fast -- he starts on Level 18, then maxes out on Level 26 (!). Most players hit the score on 28 or 29 (the latter being so fast that it's basically unplayable). Buco was fourth in the world to document his max-out, and it happened on January 2, 2012 (1/2/12).

Ben Mullen

Ben Mullen (like most of these guys) is featured in the movie Ecstasy Of Order: The Tetris Masters -- if you've seen the film, he's the guy who taught his wife to solve a Rubik's Cube (and there's a DVD extra in which they have a cube-solving's totally sweet). I refereed the match in this year's championship in which Mullen was eliminated, and it was a huge bummer to see him go. But he packed up, went home, and one week later he maxed out the game. Now that's a winner!

Harry Hong

The first documented max-out, from April 19, 2009. Hong starts here on Level 18.

And then in 2011, Hong returned to do it starting from Level 19.

Eli Markstrom

This happened in late September, just before the championship. Eli maxes out just before the Level 29 "kill screen" (where the pieces move so fast it's nearly impossible to move them to the sides of the screen).

Alex Kerr

Kerr maxed out in May, starting on Level 18. His play in the finals of the championship this year struck me as extremely efficient -- he favors a right-well (as do most players) but is a master of building a gapless left stack, then crushing it with Tetrises. Note that at the very end he clears two lines on Level 29, despite already maxing out on 28.

Jonas Neubauer

Neubauer has taken top honors at all three world championships. He's a machine. Here's his first documented max-out, starting at Level 18:

And, like Hong, Neubauer proceeded to repeat the feat starting at Level 19:

Full disclosure: I did some writing work on Ecstasy of Order, but I have no financial stake in the film. It's out on DVD and VOD now -- and it will only stress you out in a good way. (If you get the DVD, that's the only place to see Thor Aackerlund's max-out -- it's a bonus feature.) It has been a kick getting involved in this community, partly because there are so many winners.